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New Shortage for US Restaurant Chains: Chicken

Popularity of fried-chicken sandwiches at big chains is part of the problem
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2021 11:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – Add chicken to the list of products in short supply these days. Bloomberg reports that soaring demand at fast-food restaurants has resulted in a poultry crunch across the US. The Bojangles chain reported a "system-wide shortage" of chicken tenders this week, while industry behemoth KFC says it is just managing to keep up with demand for its new chicken sandwich. A CNN story traces the origins of the tight supply back to 2019, when Popeye's introduced a chicken sandwich that went viral, sold out quickly, and prompted other chains to launch their own versions. KFC's new menu entry, for example, is selling twice as quickly as a typical new sandwich.

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“Suppliers are struggling just as many in our industry are, to hire people to process chicken, thus placing unexpected pressure on the amount of birds that can be processed and negatively affecting supply of all parts of the chicken in the US, not just wings,” says the chairman of Wingstop Inc. "Fake" chicken might be part of the solution, though not a quick one. Axios notes that while plant-based alternatives to meat are rising in popularity, plant-based "poultry" is evidently harder to produce than beef. Still, Beyond Meat is planning to introduce a chicken alternative this summer. (Lab-grown meat also is a thing.)

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